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Originally published Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 5:47 PM

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Chavez ducks tough questions on election eve

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez held an impromptu news conference for international media Saturday on the eve of what is expected to be his closest election yet, but he refused to answer tough questions such as whether he would quit politics if he lost.

The Associated Press

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CARACAS, Venezuela —

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez held an impromptu news conference for international media Saturday on the eve of what is expected to be his closest election yet, but he refused to answer tough questions such as whether he would quit politics if he lost.

Chavez excused himself from responding by citing election law, which prohibits candidates from making political statements in the two days before election day.

His challenger, Henrique Capriles, has not appeared in public since Thursday in compliance with election law.

Capriles' campaign manager, Armando Briquet, called Chavez's news conference "a clear violation of the citizens' right to freely choose, without pressure."

And Capriles tweeted a response to Chavez's typically long-winded answers, which made the obscure references to which Venezuelans have become accustomed in the president's nearly 14 years in office.

"Some people at this hour are continuing with the same nonsense as always, the same old stories, with the difference being that they are of farewell," Capriles said.

Asked about the possibility of disputes or unrest after Sunday's voting, Chavez said he hoped no one attempted a "destabilizing game." If that happens, he added, "we'll be alert to neutralize them."

Chavez has spent much of the past year battling cancer in the pelvic area, whose nature he has kept secret. He claims he is now cancer-free.

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